Bridgestone to Expand Development of Natural Rubber from Desert Shrubs

Bridgestone Americas is working to commercialize the woody desert shrub, guayule, as a domestic source of natural rubber, and as a more environmentally sustainable crop in America’s drought-stricken desert southwest, the company announced.

Bridgestone plans to invest an additional $42 million to establish commercial operations, with additional investment and expansion planned toward 2030, the tire manufacturer said. The company with collaborate and partner with local U.S. farmers and Native American tribes to increase capacity of up to 25,000 additional acres of farmland for planting and harvesting guayule at scale. Bridgestone is targeting sustainable commercial production of guayule-derived natural rubber by the end of the decade.

“We’re extremely bullish on the potential for guayule as a domestic source of strategically critical materials, such as rubber, hypoallergenic latex, building material adhesives and renewable fuel, just to name a few. We’re thrilled to be taking this major step toward commercialization before the end of the decade,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer and group president, solutions businesses, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “With guayule, we can reduce the environmental impacts that come with overseas sourcing while also realizing a more sustainable agricultural system for parts of this country that are facing persistent and worsening climate conditions, so it’s really something with many benefits for our environment and our economy.”

Guayule is a heat tolerant, woody shrub that thrives in desert settings, particularly in America’s desert southwest, Bridgestone said. The shrub can be farmed with existing row-crop equipment, saving costs for farmers, and requires as little as half the water to grow as existing crops, such as cotton and alfalfa.

Bridgestone launched its guayule research initiative in 2012, when it broke ground on a processing and research center in Mesa, Arizona. Today, the company operates the research center in Mesa and a 281-acre guayule farm in Eloy, Arizona. Bridgestone produces the first tire made from guayule-derived natural rubber in 2015.

Bridgestone has also used racing as a proving ground to demonstrate the performance of guayule, the company said.

Firestone Firehawk race tires made with guayule-derived natural rubber in the sidewall were introduced at the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge in May, prior to making a full competition debut as the alternate race tire at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville on Aug. 7.

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the managing editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at

Related Articles

Back to top button